GORUCK Expedition 6 and 12

by Frank Fay

Expedition 6, 14 July 2018, Morgan Monroe State Forest, Indiana
 

The six-hour event (that lasted nearly 7 hours) began with Cadre Shredder putting us into high plank position for a few minutes while he introduced himself and Cadre Edge. Just to help us remember that this was a GORUCK event. We started off with some very basic land nav exercises that led us to a shelter area to receive instruction in basic topographical map reading and compass use.

We were split into teams of four to practice our new skill sets. The premise of this exercise was that we had moved as a group from Indianapolis to a state park to escape civil unrest. We were to locate and move to several areas on our maps using terrain recognition skills, map reading and compass usage techniques. Time hacks were given to induce some pressure into our event.

Throughout the day, we received additional training in wilderness first aid, shelter building, expedient weapon construction and food gathering. The culminating exercise was to navigate from one area of the park to Cherry Lake. There, we were given one final objective: locate a hidden cache of supplies that would be needed for our ENDEX...cold beers for everyone!

We ended at the fire tower where handshakes, beer and Expedition 6 patches were passed around. The cadre told those of us that were going to be at Expedition 12 in a couple of hours that much would be expected of us. They were right.

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Expedition 12, 15-16 July 2018, Morgan Monroe state park, Indiana

The event started off more like a Tough than I would have thought. Stress was involved from the outset. Cadre Edge barked out orders to run and find Cadre Shredder.

Once we located him, Shredder told us to run to the scout camp assembly area and stay off the roads and trails. We formed up and awaited our next tasking. We spent the next hour or so learning topographical map reading, including terrain features, shooting an azimuth and plotting a course. We learned about pace count and practiced this important skill to figure out how many steps it took to cover 100 meters (61 for me). The grid coordinate system was explained so that the cadre could give us locations to move to throughout the night.

Our large group was broken down into smaller groups of 5 or 6 people. Each team had at least one person who had been in the 6 hour event to help with teaching our new teammates some of the land nav skills that we would put into practice throughout the rest of the event. The groups received coordinates to move to and attempt to locate markers in the wooded areas. We were also told to scavenge supplies that could be useful to us throughout the event such as containers, rocks or sticks that could be used as weapons, fire staring and building materials and shelter building supplies.

With several practice exercises under our belts and darkness quickly closing in, Cadre Shredder and Cadre Edge gave each team coordinates that would lead us to a pond that the 6-hour class had met at to use some makeshift fishing lures to see if there was anything on the line for dinner. No such luck. We’d be on moving on empty stomachs the rest of the night.

At the pond, the cadre asked for a team leader. Renée immediately stepped up. She picked me as the assistant. Cadre Shredder gave us a coordinate that we had to reach. The entire group would be traveling in formation as one unit. We plotted our course, careful to stay away from roads or other places where we might be easily detected. Stealth was the order of the day. No white lights and quiet movement were stressed by the cadre.

Our first movement to waypoint 1 was relatively uncomplicated. It went downhill from there. And then uphill. And back down, and up. You get the point. Land nav in the woods in unfamiliar territory in the day is difficult. At night, it is a whole other ball game. We came to a point that was so steep, that we had to bust out a rope and use it to help get everyone safely up the other side of a ravine. We hadn’t known by looking at the map how steep this area was. It took a good while to move through this area. The cadre made us figure it out. We had chosen the route, and we were going to complete it. They used this and many other little “oops” moments to teach us important skills or to reinforce earlier lessons.

That was one of the things that I enjoyed the most about this event. If someone screwed up, like I did when plotting the wrong coordinate on an early exercise, we weren’t beaten up over it. The cadre used these as teaching moments.

“Everyone gather around and let’s learn from this."

We finally made it to our rally point and took a few minutes to recover. The cadre continued teaching important lessons in fire starting, first aid, improvised weapons and shelter building throughout the night. They kept an upbeat attitude and demanded the same from us. They wanted to see teamwork and motivation. Other TL’s and ATL’s were given the chance to try their hand at the difficult art of leadership.

One of our final exercises led us back to Cherry Lake to put our entire skillset to use. Each team had to build a sturdy shelter, place a tourniquet on a casualty, build an improvised weapon and start a fire to get water boiling. We learned how to use nylon webbing to make an improvised litter. After the lesson was given and everyone had a chance to practice, the cadre turned it into a competition. It pays to be a winner and the losers got to do a few pushups to reinforce that.

We worked our way through the woods one last time to form up at the fire tower for ENDEX. Cadre Shredder and Edge talked for a few minutes and then handed out congratulations, handshakes, patches and Budweisers to the group. This event was Cadre Shredder’s 100th event as a cadre. It was an honor to be here with these leaders.

Renee Aly